January 6, 2011

Deepak Chopra’s Daytime Television Appearance: How to Lose Weight!

Daytime television has something to teach us?

I’m not a big TV watcher, but my boyfriend likes to have something going in the background. Well guess what’s on right now? Dr. Oz, and he has Deepak Chopra on! It’s a little weird, because it’s one of those daytime television shows where there’s a big, enthusiastic audience of women who cheer and clap at every sentence. There is not one man in the audience, and it couldn’t be farther from a yoga studio or retreat, with the quick transitions and hyperbole. The cheers for Deepak Chopra would make you think these are all devoted practitioners.

I tend to look down on daytime television as useless, mind-sucking fluff. And yet, even in these ten minutes of discussion with Deepak Chopra, I’m learning more about the benefits of meditation.

Dr. Oz is introducing Deepak Chopra now, by saying that 80% of people who attempt to lose weight by dieting after the new year will put it back on. It’s not surprising. What also isn’t surprising to those of us who practice, is that meditation can help us shed excess fat. We become mindful not just during the time on our mat or blanket, but also when we have a plate of food in front of us.

“Many people say that they didn’t intend to,” Chopra says, “but once they start meditation, they change their eating habits.”

It’s true for me. I find myself stopping to listen to my body not only when I’m on the mat, but at every moment of the day. I now find heavy meats unappetizing, and when I’m almost full I can stop and enjoy the conversation around me instead fighting a small, internal battle against eating more.

Chopra is talking fast, and I don’t have DVR, but let me tell you what I can:

Dr. Oz takes a moment to give a fancy video demonstration of how chronic stress can lead to an accumulation of body fat. High levels of stress cause the body to release cortisol, blocking arteries, enlarging fat cells, and causing bell fat to accumulate. By reducing stress, we can avoid these consequences.

Chopra leads the audience of housewives and young women in a five minute meditation instruction (follow along at home!):

Put your feet firmly on the ground. Place your hands on your lap with your palms facing up. Close your eyes. Put your attention on your heart.

Just for a few seconds experience gratitude by counting all your blessings, thinking of all the reasons you have to be grateful.

Now, ask yourself some questions.

Who am I? Don’t try to figure out the answer, just let your heart respond.

What do I want?

What is my purpose?

What makes me happy?

Now let go of all that and just observe all the sensations in your body.

From there…put your attention on your heart again. Try to sense your heartbeat as a sound or as a sensation.

Relax your body.. you can yawn or stretch. Now gently open your eyes.

Behind each directive is a specific purpose, Chopra explains. When he tells us to experience gratitude:

“What happens at the time is neurons in your brain start to fire. As they say in science, neurons that fire together wire together.”

When we repeatedly count our blessings, we’re building connections between neurons that lead us to think positively more often. We recondition the way we think. When he tells us to feel our listen to our heart:

“How many people could fill that? The more you do that the more your blood pressure will drop.”

I wish I could tell you more, but unfortunately, at that point the host cut him off to pitch the Chopra Foundation and the Chopra Center For Wellbeing at La Costa, and went to commercial. There wasn’t enough time to tell the audience that losing weight is really just a side effect. The real benefit comes from creating deeper connections with people, and cultivating true happiness instead of chasing after transient beauty and material goods.

What do you think about the idea of Deepak Chopra being on a show like Dr. Oz? Do you think the lessons of meditation will resonate with the audience and people watching at home and make a difference in their lives?

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